Tuesday, 26 October 2010

warning - dead baby mentioned

a while ago i read this post, about wanting a warning label on books and films and TV shows that contain dead babies. Warning - Dead Baby Mentioned.

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I watched Up recently. I cried almost constantly, but I sobbed at the 'married life' montage when it becomes clear that Carl and Ellie can't have children. I knew it was coming, but it was still heartwrenching.

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I got a book out of the library today. The Truth about Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell. 24 pages in, there it is. Dead baby. Neonatal death, to be specific.

NO ONE talks about dead babies in the real world. No one talks about miscarriage or stillbirth, at least not in my hearing. Why are they everywhere in fiction?

11 comments:

therootofallevel said...

"up" was one of the most depressing movies we watched after our loss.

there was also a VERY sad moment tucked inside the movie "zombieland" that made me burst into tears at the movie theater. crying during a zombie movie just isn't cool these days…

wish there could be warning.

Helen said...

I know what you mean. I had a lot of trouble getting past that point of Lisa Jewell's book. Once I did I enjoyed it, but I had to put it down for a while. I couldn't think of dead babies at that time in my life (it was about 18 months ago). I haven't been to see up as I have a feeling it might remind me of some of my PND feelings.

x

Ginger Doll said...

I think Up is emotional for a whole host of reasons, we had just buried a loved one and were losing another (who looked and sounded like Carl which didn't help) when we watched it and found ourselves heartbroken by that film. It appears to have been a common reaction for friends who'd seen it - though interestingly enough it appears (on my very unscientific poll) that it's only adults it affected. Kids didn't know what the fuss was.

Unfortunately such emotional hooks everywhere in fiction because they do provoke such a strong reaction in the reader, and they are pivotal plot devices (I'm so sorry for putting something so personal that bluntly - but authors, editors and publishers are all looking for that hook that catches reader up in the plot). I agree that in a book or film marketed as light entertainment or child orientated there should be some warning in place, like the child advisory stickers, to give people a choice in what they chose to watch or read.

Jenn said...

Oh, yes, I also cried and cried while watching Up. And actually, I don't mind a dead baby in my reading, but for some reason watching something on the tv about it just gets me in the gut.

B said...

Zombieland, really?!? I'm glad I haven't watched it then! I know what you mean, Up was depressing for a long time but I thought the ending was more uplifting. although the russell ending was still sad to my mind.

helen Up is excellent if you are feeling brave enough. i was heartbroken for a good chunk of the film but it was actually resolved really beautifully. but i don't blame you if you don't want to risk bringing back the dark feelings. you've come a long way and long may that continue :)

GD oh yes Up is emotional from many, many points of view. i can imagine that anyone grieving any death at all would find it heartbreaking. and from my previous incarnation as a writer i do understand the high emotional stakes thing and that dead babies really do play on the heartstrings - but i'm sure they have appeared far more recently than they ever did previously - and i don't *think* (although i may be wrong) that it's just that i never noticed them until i lost a baby. the death of a baby is one of those things that's too horrifying for real life; if you try and talk about them people are terrified and often try and change the topic. why are they OK in fiction? i just don't get it.

Jenn, it doesn't actually stop me reading or watching, but if you portray a dead baby*, the grief had better be realistic. if it's not i'm very unforgiving these days.

* or any other grief. i recently read two books with dead husbands. didn't buy the grief in either. it was unconvincing to me. incidentally PS I Love You wasn't either of them; i read that years and and that already annoyed me!

Miss Ruby said...

I remember seeing UP at the movies. I knew what was coming, Guvnor did not and he came out of that film thoroughly depressed and said "why didn't you tell me what it was about? Prepared me?"

He hasn't watched it since.

While it was a sad film, it also left me thinking "even when life doesn't go to plan - it can still be good" Carl and Ellie never had children and yet they still had a fun filled fulfilling life together, filled with many many smiles and laughter and MOST importantly love.

x

B said...

poor guvnor. i was glad i knew what was coming.

i agree absolutely about the end of the film, but was trying not to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it :)

Catherine W said...

Argh I totally got suckered by The Truth About Melody Browne too! And Lisa Jewell used to write such nice, distracting books! I even wrote a ranty post on my blog about it. They are everywhere in fiction which makes me want to scream the dead babies are not a plot device or a quick way to add instant depth to a character or a short hand explanation of craziness!

But then I suppose if I was to ask writers to write novels where nothing momentous happened, nobody would want to read it.

cullensblessings said...

This subject is becoming my personal soapbox...

mare said...

Hi B! I have been thinking about you a lot lately and just wanted to check in. xoxo.

Big Love, Big Acceptance - or so I say said...

My husband and I were also hit with sadness at the movie Up. We watched it after our loss assuming it would be a nice light-hearted kids movie...oops! We thought really - even this movie isn't safe?? Later I had The Hangover to watch and told my parents we were going to watch it. My mom said something about it being funny and "safe" for us to watch, and then she said oh wait, there is a baby in it, but it's not much of the plot. Fortunately I could handle the baby in it, because I found the rest of the movie to be hilarious.